Homeschool Compositions: The Outline
"In homeschool compositions even just a short paper, does the student really have to do an outline?
Yesterday, I received a 'phone call asking that very question. The answer? An emphatic Yes!! Everyone over seven must do a homeschool compositions outline, even for "just a paragraph." (Creative writing is not addressed here.)
However, the query is legitimate.
In the very early grades or if a student is not in the habit of doing outlines, the initial stages of a writing assignment can be difficult. Just this beginning step might include (but is not exclusive to) much whining, stalling and wheedling. The complaining may be very convincing. Pay no attention.
Under no circumstances, may he start the composition without a legible outline.
With practice and the understanding that an outline will be done, this little period of adjustment passes quickly. In no time at all, outlines become second nature.
Why is an outline so important? An outline is a map, a guide, pointing the way for the writer.
No one sets out on a road trip without a good, concrete idea of where he is going. Otherwise he might go in the wrong direction, take wrong turns along the way and get totally lost. Then he has to back up, figure out how to get to his destination and start the trip all over again. Without proper planning, the process of traveling from point A to point B takes at least twice as long.
One might as well begin the right way--with directions--i.e. an outline. It saves time, headaches and, most importantly, the result is much better.
To ease the process, help your child understand that writing an outline is all for his benefit. Consider these points.
1) clarifies thought--what exactly are you trying to say, what is the theme, what specific ideas support your main idea, what topic order works best, etc.
2) finds flaws--not enough material, points not balanced (way too much info for one point while info for other points is skimpy or weak), arguments don't really support your position, etc.
Because of the above benefits of writing an outline, the benefits below result:
3) saves time--no starting the assignment all over again
4) is the foundation for a well-written paper--it is organized, logical, convincing, etc.
5) ensures a much better grade--for all of the above reasons!
Before attempting any outline, the writer must spend time in research/thought. Just sit with paper and pencil. Think of and gather ideas. Jot them down immediately--as soon as they pop up. Don't worry about order or if the points are relevant or not. Just capture them on paper.
With thought and a little experience, the child will begin to see that the ideas themselves seem to fall into an order. Cross out all ideas that are not relevant.
Write the theme at the top of the scratch paper.
Then list the "big points" that bolster that main idea.
Gather the supporting ideas under the appropriate "big points."
Generally, make sure the "big points" have about the same number of supporting ideas.
If necessary, do more thought/research.
A writing assignment should always begin with an outline. This small, initial effort produces huge rewards. It doesn't take long for the student to discover that the homeschool compositions outline is the writer's best friend.
If you have questions/comments, please contact me.
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